Trade shows are mysterious things.
On the surface, manufacturers book space to woo new clients and solidify existing relationships. Attendees are looking to make new connections, be wowed and find that missing link to a project.
These points are just the surface ripples, there are deeper signals generated during the show itself.
Of Talisman and Entrails
A show like InfoComm involves a good deal of precognition and pulse taking. Exhibitors have been fine tuning lines and looking to roll out features which will ignite dealers’ and users’ excitement. The booth masters clutch to their research and technical specifications like talismans, while the accountants rub their worry stones into pebbles, and sales representatives chew on fresh coca leaves.
Then there are the oracles — we who pontificate on what we saw, its effects on the market and who has come out on top. Often times this act of pronouncement can be a bit like reading entrails, nudging our fingers amongst the guts and intestines for a sign of what it all means.
There are plenty of pundits who can speak to the Winners and Losers of the show, and which technologies reigned supreme and where the new ‘convergence’ is taking place. There is a bigger metric to be found if one only listened to what the winds were bringing over.
InfoComm announced that attendance this year topped at a record 37,048, a just over 5% rise from the 2013 show in Orlando, (which also broke a record for east coast shows). Who were all these folks coming in such great numbers? Listening to the conversations in the wind and asking the questions revealed some interesting answers.
If what we heard on the floor was any indication, it looks like some good years are ahead for the commercial integration industry. There is a general optimism in the air with many attendees looking to ramp up purchasing and upgrades over the next few fiscal quarters. Our polling process was completely unscientific and consisted of asking folks who stopped by the AVNation booth two questions – Is this your first InfoComm show and why are you here?
Of the attendees we spoke with, nearly half were at their first InfoComm ever. About a third were returning after a year or so absence.
Why were they here? Nearly all responded that they were sent by their company, university, corporation to look over the offerings and report back. Many universities and educational institutions are hearing the sounds of coins jingling and purse strings being loosened. Corporations are looking to streamline with category cable topologies and improved energy management.
Can this be claimed a proven divination? No, but the consistency of the answers and reasons does show that a pent up demand is looking to spend.
Coattails in Retrograde
There has been a growing collection of related but niche market focused trade show which spring up around the arrival of infocomm. UBtech and RealComm are two which immediately dovetail into InfoComm’s timeline. UBtech is just before and RealComm occurs on the same exhibit dates (this year at the LVH).
In an interesting twist, we found a good number of folks heard about the InfoComm show while attending one of the others and decided it was well worth the look. It would seem that the coattail shows coughed up attendees who once in were duly impressed by what was offered.
After a day or so, these folks were determined to come back next year; does this mean bigger numbers next year? (Shakes magic 8-ball), “Signs Point to Yes.”
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